Glucose Monitoring without Needles

Diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease caused by either a deficiency of the hormone insulin, (Type 1) or the resistance of the body to the effects of it (Type 2). Type 1 diabetes is more common in the younger population and is usually detected earlier. The lack of insulin produced by the body makes the person affected unable to metabolize the sugar in the blood and use them as energy for metabolic processes. As such, this group is also called insulin-dependent diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus on the other hand is more common in the adult population and is managed with oral agents in the early stages. If the blood sugar level gets uncontrolled, however, the patient may need insulin administration combined with their current oral medications.

With both conditions, blood glucose monitoring is strongly advised. This is to be able to document the fluctuations in the sugar level of the patient and alert the latter if they may need to take glucose lowering agents or inject their insulin. It also serves as a reference for their physicians for adjusting their patient’s medications accordingly.

The current technique of measuring blood sugar levels involves pricking the tip of the index finger and letting a drop of it fall on the glucose strip. The strip with the drop of blood is then inserted in the allotted slot in the glucometer. The device then shows its glucose level reading on its digital monitor. It may sound quite simple but while the whole process may sound quick and easy, it is rather quite painful.

In Germany, biomedical engineer Shruti Narasimham of RWTH Aachen University, together with Gaurav Kaila, a fellow biomedical engineer, of Delft University of Technology, in The Netherlands and Sneh Anand of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India, have developed a more convenient way of measuring blood glucose levels, without needing a blood sample from the patient.

This innovation in biomedical engineering research utilizes impedance spectroscopy. With this technique, electrodes are placed on the forearm of the patient. After which, a standardized spectroscope was used to measure the blood sugar levels through impedance spectroscopy through the skin. Prior to the procedure, the spectroscope was calibrated using in-vitro standard solutions with known glucose concentrations. The result then was used to measure the sugar levels in a non-invasive manner.

Although this breakthrough in biomedical science research seems very promising, several factors still need to be accounted for. These include differences in the subject’s skin types and skin moisture, as well as the day to day variations which may affect the daily readings of patients. The research team is currently investigating these factors and is looking into further researches and development involving this technology.

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